We were delighted to attend the first Sale Sharks business club event of the year where Mark Cueto interviewed Tom Curry, Steve Diamond and Rob Webber about their 6 Nations predictions, Eddie Jones’ management style and the tournament so far…
Mark Cueto: Rob, you’ve got many caps under your belt you’ve been involved in 6 Nations in the past. You here about the importance of the first game in a knock out competition, so how important was it for England to get off to a good start in this 6 Nations tournament?
Rob Webber: In the 6 Nations it’s incredibly important to start well. And it turned out it wasn’t an arm wrestle of a victory, like when I played Italy (we just squeaked over 12-9), but England went out there and showed an authoritative performance and put a marker down for the tournament.
Mark Cueto: Tom, due to injury you’re not involved with the 6 Nations at the moment. What’s the latest on your wrist and when are you expecting to be fit?
Tom Curry: Hoping that by March 24th I’ll be ready. I’ve been doing some passing the other day.
Mark Cueto: Tom, you’ve been involved with Eddie Jones and his transformation of the England team, I was talking to Richard Wigglesworth in the car down here and he said that Eddie’s attention to detail is just unbelievable. He’ll put entries into the lads diaries at 12:47 or 13:33 for example, is his level of detail that painful?
Tom Curry: Definitely. He instils this level of detail onto the players, he has a board of all the players and we’re expected to analyse it and interpret what we want from the game and how to take the opposition. With Eddie, you’re on your toes 24/7, you don’t get much sleep! You know what’s expected of you and it’s brilliant to be there.
Mark Cueto: Dimes, players like George Ford and Owen Farrell are in the England team. They both play 10 for their clubs and they’re both doing really well playing 10 and 12 respectively for their country – do you think there’s a dilemma about selection from Eddie’s point of view?
Steve Diamond: No. Farrell is one of only three world class players in the England team who would get into the New Zealand team. I think you have to have Ford in the team because of his ability to distribute. Farrell is more like Jonny Wilkinson, but Ford can do things with the ball that not a lot of players can do in the world.
Mark Cueto: Wrap play is where you hit the guy at the front and he’s got runners coming either side and he goes out the back. It seems to be something that Sale are doing a lot and in rugby in general.
Rob Webber: It’s something that’s come into the game in the last 4/5 years, we’ve learnt it from rugby league attack. What is does is, makes it harder for you to defend as the attacker can pass it to one of three guys making your job very hard. It’s all about creating space.
This play and the way it’s run answers the question about Ford and Farrell. Having them both in the team allows them to run that shape very well and make that attack so effective.
Mark Cueto: What Eddie Jones has done with this England team is unbelievable, one defeat in 24 games at international level is incredible. Can you put your finger on what Eddie has done to turn this team around?
Rob Webber: Apart from ending my international career! He’s come in and revolutionised everything. The way the team train, eat and sleep. Importantly the players have bought into it and they’re getting their rewards. There’s tests to come in New Zealand and I’m not sure how the rest of the 6 Nations will pan out but they’re going in the right direction and it’s great to see.
Mark Cueto: England are going for a record breaking 3rd consecutive 6 Nations win. Do you think that adds extra pressure?
Tom Curry: Eddie is a massive believer in the next game being the most important game. All the attention will be on Wales, there’s an incredible amount of analysis that has been going on.
Mark Cueto: Just to touch on Wales. Last week, were Scotland bad or was it a good Wales performance?
Steve Diamond: I thought Wales did what they needed to do. The first attribute you need is attitude and the Scots didn’t turn up with it like they did against South Africa and Australia in the autumn. If you go into the Principality Stadium without ‘full metal’ then you’re going to get beaten. Wales did a good professional job in the opening game against a side that have been built up to do really well.
Rob Webber: Warren Gatland picked players from the Scarlets team who are rampaging through Europe. Picking 12 starters from that club for the starting game he had a readymade, tight knit team who played like the Scarletts with afew Gatland touches. Whereas Scotland had to get their squad together from all over and bond again.
Mark Cueto: We know Warren Gatland likes his mind games. This week he’s talking about Eddie being the next Lions captain. Do you think his talk makes an impact?
Steve Dimond: I think it adds a little spice and does the sport a lot of good, it gets rugby to the front page. Eddie Jones is a master tactician, he has a plethora of knowledge. He has the biggest player pool in the world and drives them harder than any other international coach. He’s created such an ambitious pipeline of players who will do anything to get in that team. Eddie won’t let one person throw that ship off it’s course and that’s why they will win this 6 Nations.
Mark Cueto: England v. Wales at Twickenham – what are your 6 Nations predictions for the game?
Rob Webber: England will win the game. I think it will be tighter than the two openers, England 27 Wales 17.
Tom Curry: I think England will edge it England 20, Wales 12.
Steve Diamond: England 31, Wales 11
Mark Cueto: So, 6 Nations predictions for a unanimous England win! Let’s hope so.